Parents’ Voice is targeting fast food outlets that offer soft drinks as part of children’s meal deals.
Parents say they expect water to be the default option with kids meals but are often left in a sticky situation when their child is offered a soft drink instead.
Fast food outlets are being urged to take a ‘responsible role’
Parents’ Voice is targeting McDonald’s, Hungry Jack’s, Red Rooster, Pizza Hut, Oporto, KFC and Chicken Treat, claiming they are breaching a healthy advertising code.
73 per cent of Australian children exceed World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for added sugar intake.
But the Australian Food and Grocery Council says that the proposed change would be a “stretch” and that the current options available to families are sufficient, reports ABC news.
The council’s acting chief executive Dr Geoffrey Annison says while water would be a more popular choice, he rejected the idea that there was a default drink served with meals.
“All parents have a choice when they go to the counter. They can choose water or they can choose milk or they can choose soft drinks,” Dr Annison said. “These outlets are catering to a broad community so they need to maintain a choice.”
“We need to promote the dietary guidelines which do support water as the first drink of choice but of course other drinks do have a role including soft drinks as a treat.”
The Subway restaurant chain has signed on to the plan and now only provides soft drinks with children’s meals on request.
Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft from Melbourne University is part of the campaign and says sugary drinks are having a deep impact on children’s health, through obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.
“We know that these companies need to be taking more of a responsible role in offering a healthy alternative and offering water and not offering a soft drink to a five- or six-year-old kid as part of their so-called happy meal for example,” he said.
“There is a strong link between sugar consumption and poor health outcomes.
“One in two kids by the age of six have tooth decay in their baby teeth so it’s very extreme and then there’s obesity and there’s type 2 diabetes.”
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